Narcissism or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) has been a buzzword in the last few years, often being used casually to describe someone who is self-absorbed or obnoxious. Overt or Grandiose Narcissism is what we typically think of when we conceptualize Narcissistic Behaviour.
While Narcissism is often seen in a negative light, grandiose narcissistic personalities are typically charming and well-liked. People with grandiose narcissism tend to have a very high sense of self-esteem, which can cause them to overestimate their capabilities. Despite their charm, after a while they are typically easier to spot than their less obvious counterparts.
The reality is that Narcissists can create havoc within their relationships, families and professional spaces.
This article discusses the typical Grandiose or Overt Narcissist and discusses ways to manage this type of relationship.
Where does this come from?
Why do certain individuals develop this way? Well, it all begins in childhood and how they are parented.
- Children who have been neglected or abandoned during early childhood
- Children who have received excessive praise and admiration from parents
- Children who have received excessive criticism from partents
- Children who really aren’t parented with no boundaries set or restrictions given
What is Grandiose Narcissism?
Under the canopy of Narcissism is one sub-type, the Grandiose Narcissist. Where other narcissists may have an underlying sense of insecurity or fragility, a person with grandiose narcissism will believe, without doubt, that they are special, unique, and superior.
Here are some common characteristics:
- A need for admiration
- A lack of empathy
- An exaggerated sense of importance
- Persistent fantasies of increased success, power, happiness, love, intelligence, or physical appearance
- A belief that they are so special that they should only associate with other special people
- A belief that they should receive special attention, treatment, and gifts
- A tendency to take advantage of other people or situations to fulfill their goals
- Lacking care, compassion, and empathy for others
- Being envious of others and thinking that others are envious of them
- Appearing arrogant, conceited, or self-absorbed
Signs of a Grandiose Narcissist
- A flashy and showy presentation with expensive cars, clothes, and homes
- Being boastful and frequently bragging about their accomplishments
- The sense that they are inauthentic with compliments
- Being quick to anger if anyone contradicts or disagrees with them
- Asking for special treatment or consideration
- High sensitivity to criticism no matter how constructive and reactive anger as a response
- Sticking to their views or opinions, even when there is plenty of evidence against them
How to Deal with a Grandiose Narcissist
Living, working, or engaging with a grandiose narcissist is difficult. Not only will they not care about your point of view if it doesn’t align with theirs, they won’t believe you if you say something critical. If they respond, it will likely be with intense anger, discouraging you to mention anything in the future.
1. Identify the Narcissist
As illustrated, a grandiose narcissist is quite different from a vulnerable narcissist, so treating and responding to them in the same way will not be effective. Take some time to identify the key characteristics of the person you interact with and notice how they present themselves, how they respond to adversity, and how they engage with others.
The grandiose narcissist will usually seem happy, confident, loud, and the center of attention. A vulnerable narcissist could slink away from social situations and appear more quiet or introverted.
2. Set Reasonable Expectations
If you’re setting out to deal with a grandiose narcissist, you must be reasonable and realistic. Like other personality disorders, narcissism is a character trait that tends to be static and stable over time. It does not shift and fluctuate like depression or anxiety do.
In many situations, the narcissist will not be interested in changing or doing things differently, because according to them, their life is going perfectly. Putting too much pressure on the situation can cause stress and frustration in the other person, so set the expectation low.
3. Don’t Take Things Personally
To protect themselves from feelings of inferiority and shame, narcissists deny their shortcomings by projecting their own faults onto others. It’s very upsetting to get blamed for something that’s not your fault or be characterized with negative traits you don’t possess. But as difficult as it may be, don’t take it personally. It not about you. Don’t buy into the narcissist’s version of who you are.
4. Set & Enforce Boundaries
People with grandiose narcissism are notoriously manipulative and selfish. Given the opportunity, they could put friends, family, and employees in dangerous or distressing situations without pausing to consider the risks.
It’s mandatory that you create boundaries to set the limits of what you’re willing to accept. Let them know that you won’t tolerate this type of behavior and describe the consequences of any manipulation. Most importantly, you must follow through on the planned repercussions. Otherwise, the manipulation will continue.
5. Be Prepared to Leave
Sometimes the only way to appropriately deal with a grandiose narcissist is to leave them, especially if you’re in a romantic relationship. Whether the narcissist is a family member, a friend, a coworker, a boss, or a romantic partner, you have to know when being together is causing too much pain, stress, and hardship in your life. They may not be willing or able to change, but you can change your level of contact with them.
If you are struggling in this type of relationship, reach out for support and find the resources you need.
- Frontiers In Psychology – Emanuel Jauk, Elena Weigle, Konrad Lehmann, Mathias Benedek & Alijoscha C. Newbauer. “The Relationship Between Grandiose and Vulnerable (Hypersensitive) Narcissism” (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01600/full ) Accessed 01/15/23
- ScienceDirect – William Hart, John Adams, K.Alex Burton & Gregory K. Tortoriello “Narcissism and Self-Presentation: Profiling Grandiose and Vulnerable Narcissists’ Self-presentation Tactic Use” (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0191886916308121?via%3Dihub ) Accessed 01/15/23
- HelpGuide.org. Narcissistic Personality Disorder. “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” (https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-disorders/narcissistic-personality-disorder.htm) Accessed 12/19/2022.
- Stathis Grapsas, Eddie Brummelman, Mitja D. Back and Jaap J. A. Denissen. “The “Why” and “How” of Narcissism: A Process Model of Narcissistic Status Pursuit” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6970445/) Accessed 12/19/22
Katrina Murphy is a Professional Intuitive Mindset and Confidence Coach in Ontario, Canada, serving clients across Canada and internationally. Katrina helps professionals to change the relationship that they have with themselves so they can reconnect both in their relationships and at work. She’s been featured in various publications and is the creator of the Power-Passion-Purpose Framework.